SKUSA adds KZ (again)

I didn’t know whether to drag up one of the old threads about the IAME SSE engine or start a new topic altogether but, some have probably seen the big news from SKUSA yesterday:

https://www.superkartsusa.com/national/skusa-pro-tour/3100-skusa-to-allow-kz-engines-to-run-alongside-the-175sse-in-shifter-classes-at-the-2020-skusa-protour-and-prokart-challenge.html

Reaction to this has been all over the place. Some are genuinely excited about this or “it’s about time”, while others are saying “what is SKUSA thinking”? A few people online have declared the IAME 175 engine dead with this announcement and the Rok shifter victorious. And others have wished that the Honda CR125s were never dropped in the first place.

Some defenders of the announcement have assured that the 125cc KZs can run together, and be competitive, with the IAME 175 shifter. The results from last season’s PKC East season, where KZs and IAME 175s have already raced together, suggest they could. Then again, IAME 175s took the first 8 spots at last year’s Rock Island GP King of the Streets race. And I admit I still have my doubts that a 125cc can run with a motor that is 40% bigger by volume, even if the IAME is de-tuned for better reliability.

Whatever the case, the IAME SSE introduction hasn’t gone as planned for SKUSA so far, and ROK has taken advantage of it. While the two entities keep fighting their ongoing war to gain control of the relatively small number of karters still bothering with it. Interested to see how many KZs show up in the Pro Tour though.

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IAME have introduced KZ-1 to their euro series and international finals, which isn’t a good signal if you’re invested in the 175cc here too. It’s basically a class that allows the CIK homologated IAME engines to race together. I think it’s quite understandable they might want to reduce their product range and the IAME KZ isn’t particularly strong atm anyway so it opens up a new market for it.

For RIGP, you really need to consider the names driving those 175s vs comparing it to any KZ that ran.

Here’s a Modena vs 175SSE battle:

About the 3 minute mark, the onboard with a Modena and the #8 175SSE and they are very very matched.

I struggle to see this being a win for the 175cc. It’s probably good for SKUSA in the sense that they’ll get way more entries (i hope) as there seems to be KZ’s knocking around all over the place.

The thing KZ’s have in their pocket is they are somewhat open. A good tuner can tune the engines for different tracks so I expect we’ll see some tracks where the IAME is close but tracks that don’t suit the IAME will still be good for a KZ. I assume the IAME is torquey but low RPM, but I’ve never driven one. So events like Supernats would have the IAME close, but somewhere like NOLA or Newcastle should see the KZ get to stretch its legs.

I also read somewhere (don’t know if its true) that the ROK shifter only needs the pipe changing and its a KZ engine, apparently not very competitive as a KZ engine (as it needs some tuning) but it still means that suddenly their main competitor can enter their races.

ROK Shifter will get womped on without another probably 10 pound break from the KZ.

As someone who ran the 2019 Great Lakes Pro Kart Challenge (now SKUSA PKC East), I’m a firm believer that the KZ and 175 can be raced together. We had races where drivers of similar caliber won with either engine, and the racing was very close throughout the entirety of the season. Also, similar results were had at other events including the Battle at the Brickyard, and Quincy Grand Prix. Here are snips from a few of the results (full results via hyperlink):

NCMP Final 1- Joe Ruch using Modena KZ, others using 175:

NCMP Final 2- Joe Ruch using Modena KZ, others using 175:

Norway Final 2-

Battle at the Brickyard Qualifying- top 2 on KZ.


Final results w/Rory and Josh having switched to IAME 175

Lap times between the two categories in the main events at Supernats were more or less identical as well. Sure, more data is required to provide a definitive answer on parity, but I think the packages are pretty close.

I do think it’s important to point out that not all KZ motors are created equal, and an average or below motor likely won’t keep pace with the 175, but nor will it with a strong KZ motor. It’s a bit puzzling why SKUSA would want to implement this change on the Pro Tour level, but if it brings more entries and more shifters to the events then I’m all for it.

Regarding the Rok Shifter, not only does it use a different pipe, but the cylinder and head are totally different than the Vortex RKZ. Rok Shifter is a great package, but doesn’t really stand a chance to compete head to head with KZ’s and the 175.

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How about PKC East adding Rok Shifter and Rok Master Shifter?!?!

Talk about big news.

Yeah that’s a head scratcher. I would imagine they’re trying to capture some of the east coast Rok crowd, especially for the race at Pitt.

They want the F-Series guys to come race I would imagine. PKC East really needs to get some good entries this year if it wants to build momentum.

The problem is there is so much other racing in big series going on on this side of the country. SKUSA has to play to the shifter crowd, as that’s what they always hype up and that’s something they offer that other series don’t.